– By Patrick Ochei

Six days after Ine Festival, the Ine Aho Festival finally ends with the Ishu Onicha feast, being the final major public event in the series of activities marking the 2022 annual new yam festival in Issele-Uku.

Agbogidi Obi Nduka once again, emerged from his inner chambers of the Palace, dressed in red royal regalia to receive his Palace Chiefs whose day is the day of Ishu Onicha to pay him homage and receive Royal handshake (Inaka).

First on the line to be led with Olimgba dance to pay his homage was the Osodi of Issele-Uku Kingdom, Chief Sunday Monye. This is the chief whose assignment and responsibility it is to ensure the protection and welfare of the Anasi-Obi (Queen). He hails from Ogboli village and has been around for long, remaining dutiful and diligent in carrying out the traditional functions of the Title of Osodi of Issele-Uku.

The second title holder to move to pay his homage is the Inwengwe of Issele-Uku Kingdom and incidentally, his first time appearance, Chief Victor Egbune. He is saddled with the responsibility of being the Spokesperson of the Palace and being a member of the Royal family (Umueze Issei), he understands the intricacies of Royal duties and rules of engagements within the Palace.

The Ide of Issele-Uku Kingdom, Chief (Barr) Tony Nwabuotu came next in line to pay his homage. A culture loving British lawyer, he represented adequately as a true son of the land. He hails from Umueze Issei Village and renowned for his agility in performing his traditional functions as Ide Oligbo.

The Osoeze-Ebi (one who lives with the king) of Issele-Uku Kingdom, Chief Nwakaife Ezieshi is a prominent figure in the community as a result of his immense love for the culture and traditions of his forebears. He hails from Ogboli Village and has been one of the people who make tradition interesting in town.

The fifth title holder was the Olikeze of Issele-Uku Kingdom, Chief David K. Siunoje, now Canadian based who has done well to prove his mettle and defend the prized title of Olikeze (one who dines and wines like a king). He hails from Ogbe-Ofu Village; the Iga people of Issele-Uku and his father was well known in traditional matters.

The sixth and last in that order of title holders to perform was the Osigie of Issele-Uku Kingdom, Chief Michael Brian Odiakosa. He is a proud Anioma son, based in the United States of America and has done tremendously well in the promotion of Anioma Nation, culture and her people. The title of Osiuge (friend of the Palace) is both honorary and palatial having been recognised as a true friend who has now been bestowed the rights of a family member. He hails from Idumuje-Unor community but has become an illustrious friend turned illustrious son in Issele-Uku Kingdom.

It was time for Obi Issei to perform (Ime Uje) and the entire place was agog. It is always fun to behold an Issele-Uku King take the centre stage of attraction. He was accompanied by the Onotu Chiefs who flanked him in the Uge while the Palace Chiefs joined up from their various canopies outside.

The Omu of Issele-Uku Kingdom, Omu Beatrice Onwodi who also was gallantly dressed in red Omu regalia, was already waiting by the Ishu Ani at the left hand side while the Queen of Issele-Uku Kingdom, Anasi-Obi Chukwudumebi Rosemary Nduka was at the right hand side dancing and cheering up her loving husband.

The Agbogidi immediately proceeded into the Ani Ground with the Isekute, Chi-Obi and Ashi-Obi to offer prayers and sacrifices to the Ancestors while the Omu and other chiefs stood behind him.

At the end, series of gun shots were fired to signify the end of the rites, just as the Obi comes out to pay glowing tributes to his forefathers before moving over to greet the Queen and then danced back to the Palace where he was received by other members of the Royal family led by Prince Chris Akeh and, Okpalabisi led by Ogbelani Diokpa Isimchei Okonkwo.

At the Uge, the Ogbelani greeted the king traditionally with “Osisi” before the commencement of the slaughtering and sharing of a female goat to mark the end of the Ishu Onicha. However, Obi Nduka was led back into his inner Chambers with Egwu Issoh and Opi flute.

The Ishu Onicha officially marks the end of Ine Aho Festival apart from the Eke Obo that will take place on September 18 and Eke Nmo on September 22 which are private prayers to draw a line of finality on all spiritual activities of the Ine Aho Festival.

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